This is a blog about depression. If you are easily offended or take offence to my very sarcastic humour, please do not read any further. Mental illness is not a joke; it is not something to point fun at and I fully understand that. BUT…when the going gets tough, sarcasm and humour is my defence and so I will be parading it around all over this blog.
If you need help, please get it. Whilst I hope this has a happy ending, I don’t know yet and given I’ve not been able to fix myself, I really don’t want others using this as a ‘How To Be Happy for Beginners v2.0’
It’s Friday, the last weekday of the week. Normally, this is the day people love, but, I am spotting a theme, a bit like Tuesdays, that this is not a good day for me. I’ve allowed myself to skip day care today in favour of a day hiding away in my flat with my two furballs (a.k.a. the cats) for company. I start to bottle out of this decision though. I don’t like playing truant. It doesn’t align well with my ‘perfect’ façade. I turn the coffee machine on, feed the cats and open the blinds. This is all signs I may well be going to day care. My mind can’t decide so I take the decision out of my hands and ask a friend to decide for me. They think I should. Well, that’s made my life easier. I go, via taxi and with a lot of dry shampoo in my hair. Damn without the discount code these taxis are racking up a hefty credit card bill
Session 1 and Therapist W is back! Yippee. I am in a dark place though – the hospital doesn’t feel so safe anymore since the panic attack on Wednesday. There is another new patient in the group, we are too big, I don’t want any more changes. Please stop. I check in and state I am in a bad place. The tears start instantly and so too the snotty nose. This is not helped by the nose bleeds either. My nose feels revolting and I’m very conscious of it. I also state how my parents aren’t reacting how I expected them too and it’s confusing me and finally how I am freaking out about the next couple of weeks. As ever, the therapist wants to ‘explore’ these things. I start to write a list of things I achieved last night. It’s not insignificant, I should feel a bit better about myself. I don’t though and ask if we can move on, my tears aren’t stopping anytime soon and I’d rather others had the chance to speak.
As other patients open up, I try to offer empathy or advice where I can. Then it hits me, this very act of trying to help others is selfish. Why I hear you question, when we are all taught helping others is a good thing. This is selfish because most of the time, the nugget of therapy gold I am trying to give to the others is advice I’d be sensible to take on board myself. Oh bugger. I can’t even help others without being bad. Therapist W and the patients tell me it’s not selfish, and apparently, my advice is helpful.
I tune out for a bit and the notebook takes the brunt with more manic scribbles. My need to be liked kicks in when Patient L3 lists the patients she likes as an example. I don’t make that list. I know, deep down, she does somewhat like me. She’s the patient that gave me Fred, she’s stayed after sessions to check I am ok, she’s spent time talking to me. Still though, it stings a bit.
Thinking back about the compassionate person we were asked to think about and I try to hold onto the image of Nan Nan. The problem is I feel really ugly at the moment. I’ve put on weight, my meds have caused adult acne on my back, I’ve got hair that stays in the direction it’s brushed in, new stretch marks and to top it all off, only my tracksuit trousers fit me. It’s not a good look. The shame, as Therapist W points out to another patient, is the consequence of our judgemental thinking. I think that if I was beautiful on the outside, maybe I’d be a good person on the inside. Truth is, life just isn’t that black and white.
Patient L describes herself as damaged. This sparks Therapist W to interject. We are not damaged. We are wounded. Wounds can heal, wounds still allow us to function. This is interesting and he’s right (obviously, hence why he’s the therapist and we are the patients). Mental illness is a wound. We are still people. We can still function. Not at full whack right now but we can and will heal. This is a concept I need to hold onto, especially whilst feeling this black.
I head to lunch for the weekly Friday lunch of scampi and chips. Oh, comfort food, you are so good. I have lunch with Patient L and Patient J3, it’s nice to be social. It helps a bit with my low thoughts too.
I head to the shop, I need to get some cash out, get a couple of cards and we all know, I’ll be stopping via M&S for a top up of the binge goodies. Whilst walking around, I see some lovely tops. They aren’t expensive and look like they are pretty. Ok Patient C, you can do some online shopping tonight. Not much mind you, but, you are allowed to get some trousers that fit. Wearing my tracksuit out of the house doesn’t make me feel good. It doesn’t set me up to feel confident out in the big wide world. For the sake of not too much money, jeans that would fit me would make a big difference. I then stop via the card shop. I want to write a post card to New Patient a.k.a. colleague to put under their room door. I really feel the need to say sorry once more but also say I would be happy to chat. I find the perfect one. It states
“Everyone seems normal until you really get to know them”
I also pick up a card for my dad. Some of the more detailed focussed readers may notice I interchange the words father and dad. It’s struck me I do this dependant on my emotions towards him. If I feel he’s on the pedal stool I’ve put him on, it’s dad, if he’s kicking me when I am already in the gutter, it’s father. Anyway, he’s dad today. He’s been sending me more texts and they mean a lot. I’d like to post a funny card to let him know I appreciate his efforts.
Finally, whilst still by the shops I reply to Friend FC who has offered to come around tomorrow with her husband and kids or meet me in a nearby park. One of their daughters is my goddaughter. I am not sure, especially in tracksuit trousers, I can face the park. Can they come to me? Apparently, it’s no problem and if the kids are too much, she can come alone. Thank you. Throughout all this, everyone’s understanding and support has meant more than I can articulate.
I head back to the hospital with enough time to write the post card to Colleague. Under the door it goes. Patient L thinks it’s a lovely gesture. I hope Colleague takes it the same way.
Final session of the week and time for IPT. Except Therapist J decides we are going to do an exercise with a handout. No, this is not what I need. Why have you done this? I check in and state I feel unsafe at home alone, like the universe is ganging up on me, out of control with binging and finally, no holds barred, frustrated we are doing the week review activity rather than a normal IPT session. Wow Patient C, where did that honesty come from? This is very unlike me. Therapist J has gotten to know me over the past few weeks and he congratulates me for being honest about it. We are still doing the task but congratulations nonetheless. I just needed this session to be what I was expecting. I am struggling enough as it is right now, this curveball is not appreciated. Not only that but this is an activity we need to do in pairs.
Therapist J hands out the sheet of questions to work through. I wish I’d not come in today. This is a waste of a precious day care day. Patient H is my partner. He admits he’s not in a good place and doesn’t think he can take part in this exercise. Wow dude, you’ve just said what I feel. We are an even number so another pair ask if I want to join them. No, not really, especially as I still feel awkward towards Patient J3 who is in said pair. Instead I do the exercise alone. This suits me. Patient H apologises for making me do this alone. No dude, this is great. This is what I prefer. So much so, I’ve even written so much in my trusted notebook. I show him and thank him. Patient H has been reading over my shoulder too, he says he can see what I’ve written and he wishes I could see I am not a bad person. Me too Patient H, me too.
So, as the group starts discussing what they’ve all written, Therapist J checks back in with me. I’m loathed to admit it but the exercise was useful. Bugger! He’s right, I am wrong. It’s highlighted how much I am worrying about seeing mum on Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day and so I’ll have to be the happy smiley Daughter C she’s expecting. The Sensible Daughter C who is so reliable. Not the psychiatric Patient C I really am. It’s also made me realise I am not fully opening up to Dr. E. I don’t think she knows how dark my head has gotten over the last few days.
Finally, and most definitely not the easiest part. I admit I am worried about keeping myself safe on Sunday. Sunday specifically because, my plan, my escape method from this world, involves trains. There, it’s out. Statistically, and I do love statistics, it’s the most ‘successful’ method. Why Sunday? I am the Sensible Daughter C who is reliable so I’ll be the one to meet mum off the train – Sister will be late as per usual. Then, again, as Sensible and Reliable Daughter C, I’ll be the one who puts mum back on the train. I.e. I have to come face to face with trains. Therapist J says the fact I am opening up about this is a healthy and positive sign. Well matey, could you tell my depression that as it’s not agreeing with you at the moment. So, that was IPT and it felt shit. Patient D3 wants to know how I am going to get home tonight. Taxi, there really is only one answer to that.
I get home and the shit feeling comes to life in the form of a mini binge. Friend ML is meant to be coming over for a takeaway but I can’t work out if this is good or not. I binge whilst telling her she really doesn’t need to if she’s too tired. No, she wants to come. Deep down, really deep down, right at the very bottom of my big belly, I know this is the right thing to help me too.
Whilst waiting for Friend ML to arrive, I start the process of online shopping. I pick out some jeans and a couple of tops in a bigger size than I am happy with but, needs must. Given this is meant to be a truthful account of what’s going on in my life right now, I also over spend on a luxury perfume brand as a ‘present’ to myself. I can’t afford it but it’s not stopped me.
My phone vibrates and it’s Colleague. They received my card and completely understand. They would love to catch up with me when I am back on Monday and they are thankful I reached out to them. I let out a deep breath, a breath I didn’t even realise I was holding. This message also gives me some motivation.
Ok, get with it, sort the spare room mess out. The food hoard is put on the bed. Ok, not all of it, just some of it. I’ve divided it into food I think I can let go of and food I can’t. Next up, get the house reed diffusers out. I’ve stock piled the wrong ones! How has this happened? This is going to cost me more money (no, the thought of not having reed diffusers around the place is NOT an option for me). I then get to planning out the weekend. I must keep this momentum moving.
Friend ML arrives and it’s Thai take out and a review of what clothes I should order. Friend ML doesn’t stay long but it’s what I needed. In fact, after she leaves, I open up the colouring book that I’ve not allowed myself to do in the last few days.
In bed at a sensible time and the cats come too. They are very useful as feet warmers! I do a write up for the blog and set my alarms. I’m really going to try to tackle sleep and get back onto a better schedule. I feel upbeat as I kick the cats out and head to sleep. Please survive the night, upbeat. Please still be there in the morning. Please be strong enough so I can wash too! I am not sure scaring my goddaughter is a good idea. She’s only little.